U-17 women get ‘fair’ draw

Zambia U17 women qualified to the World Cup following a 6-4 aggregate win over South Afri
ZAMBIA has been handed a relatively easy draw at the Costa Rica 2014 FIFA Women Under-17 World Cup finals in Group A with the hosts and Italy for the tournament that kicks off on March 15 and ends on April 4.

The team that will be making a maiden appearance at the World Cup finals also has Venezuela in the Group, avoiding big guns like Germany, Spain and 2012 runners up North Korea while champions France failed to qualify.

Zambia kicks off her campaign on March 15 at the Costa Rica National Stadium in San Jose with a match against Italy, who finished third at the UEFA Under-17 championships, a match that will come after the hosts open the tournament against Venezuela at the same venue.

The Albert Kachinga side will then play Venezuela on March 18 before wrapping up group fixtures against Costa Rica on March 22 at the Ricard Saprissa Ayma Stadium in the town of Tibas.

Ghana, who finished third at the last edition, renew rivalry with European champions Germany who they beat 1-0 on their way to winning bronze, in what is a toughest group of the tournament. Group B also has North Korea and Canada.

Top placed team from Group B will face runner up from Group A in the quarterfinals to be played on March 27 with the runner up in Group B playing the winner of Group A for place in the semi finals.

The draws held yesterday at the Old Customs facilities in San Jose saw Group C having New Zealand, Paraguay and Spain with another African representative Nigeria in Group D with Mexico, Colombia and China.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has described the draw as fair but that the team would be well prepared for the huge task ahead of them.

FAZ spokesperson Erick Mwanza said in an interview yesterday he was confident of a good performance by Zambia that might be considered underdogs playing against European sides like Italy.

Mwanza said preparations for a final tournament will see the team having intensive camping and a number of friendly matches but that the association will reveal the full training schedule, camp and which countries the team will set the camp over the coming few days.

“It’s a fair draw, when you get to play at the World Cup finals you are there to play the best that the world has to offer. We are one of the best teams and the cream of women junior teams going to Costa Rica, all know that, as we do, that at this level you step up.

There won’t be any easy games for anybody. For us it’s our first time, so we may be considered underdogs especially against top European opposition like Italy but we will prepare well and we know the girls will give it a good all,” he said.

And Costa Rica coach Juan Diego Quesada expressed confidence that his team would manage to advance to the next round though confessed that he had no information on Zambia and Venezuela.

“Getting information on Germany will be simple but it will be different in the case of Venezuela and Zambia. I consider this group easy and the important thing is for us to go through to the next round, Quesada told local media, La Nacion.

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